Without doubt the HP Pavillion dv6 dv6-3046sa is one of the best looking laptops around and brings a touch of class where others at this price fail.

The body is a beautiful textured white, as if adorned in carbon fibre, and offset by smooth black keys. It's an instant head turner and, on closer inspection, doesn't reveal a tacky plastic veneer like the Samsung R540.

The dv6 is substantially thinner than the rest of the sub-£399 field and feels a lot more solid as well. Build quality is superb, which helps the keyboard and mouse to feel responsive and sharp. It's this quality that makes the HP stand out from the Samsung R540 and Fujitsu LifeBook A530.

Battery life lasted a meagre 218 minutes of constant use, which is average at best, but still gives you over three hours of good use away from the mains. At 2.6kg, it's no lighter than others in its class, but it's substantially thinner, which makes it a little easier to carry.

Inside the chassis is an AMD Turion II P529 dual-core processor, clocked at 2.3GHz. There's also 4096MB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard drive to boot, matching the Samsung pound for pound.

HP pavilion dv6

The difference in specs is clear to see, but the differences weren't quite so tangible in our labs. When performance was tested side by side with its rivals, the dv6 didn't exactly blow them out of the water.

The AMD-based HP Pavillion was significantly slower in benchmarking tests than the Samsung, which we found extremely disappointing. If there is a lesson to be learned about not choosing a laptop based on raw numbers then this is it.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 218 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 159
3DMark 2003: 9781

General performance

Despite falling short in benchmarking tests, you're unlikely to see much real-world impact on performance. Complex tasks will be performed slightly slower than the Samsung, but for general web browsing and emailing, there's little tangible difference.

However, there's a bigger difference in graphics power, which helped the HP stand out from the rest of the sub-£399 crowd. The HP Pavillion features a dedicated graphics card. This comes in the form of an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 chip.

While most other laptops at this price point use a graphics chip that is built into the motherboard, the HP has plenty more power. The result is a laptop which can handle high-definition (HD) video properly, and even stretch to complex browser games, or even older titles such as Half Life 2.

If you're looking for a great looking all-rounder, but not something really portable, then the HP dv6-3046sa is a top choice, and well worth its £399 price tag.

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